Careers special: Focus on new entrants on Oxfordshire estate

clock • 3 min read
Careers special: Focus on new entrants on Oxfordshire estate

Apprenticeships are a great way to learn practical skills and get a start in the industry. Farmers Guardian reports.

GIVING young people a chance to farm is the focus at Blenheim Estate, Oxfordshire. It has recently taken on a new apprentice stockperson, Ellie Young, in a bid to encourage new talent into the industry.

Ellie, who began her stockperson level two apprenticeship in September and is training to be a shepherdess, is getting ready for her first lambing season working alongside Blenheim’s farm manager Charles Gerring and full-time shepherd Tom Locke.

The estate is home to a 1,000-strong flock of Scotch Mule sheep, reared entirely on grass within the estate’s walls, keeping them as naturally healthy as possible.

Ahead of lambing season, which is set to get under way in April at Blenheim, Ellie is eager to get started and the 18-month apprenticeship has also given her the opportunity to train up her own sheepdog puppy, Buddy.

Ellie, 18, who is not from a farming background, said: “I am really looking forward to lambing and I am so excited for the season to get started. I really enjoy the daily care of the sheep.

“I am absolutely loving it here so far, the guys are really nice and I am constantly learning so much.

“Buddy is learning quickly, but he is still a bit excitable. He loves sheep and people and by the end of my apprenticeship I want him to be fully trained.”

Working on a UNESCO World Heritage Site means she also has to get used to interacting with visitors to the estate.

She said: “The whole experience is absolutely amazing, I never thought I would ever be doing this. I have always wanted to work on a farm, but I never thought it would be here. The surroundings are beautiful.”

Her day-to-day roles include checking on the sheep and helping Tom and Charles in their daily duties and both of her mentors are pleased with her progress.

Ellie does feel, however, that more should be done to allow others to consider agriculture as a career.

She said: “I would really like to become a full-time shepherdess. Working on the estate has been great and has boosted my skills and knowledge massively.

“You do not tend to hear a lot about agriculture in school or hear about it as a career to go into either, which is a shame as it is a valuable industry.”

Charles, who is head shepherd at Blenheim, is keen to help those who want to get a foot on the ladder and thinks the future is bright for the sector.

He said: “I am extremely proud to be part of the new entrant’s journey into farming. It is great to see them develop and grow into their role and to be able to pass on some of my own knowledge.

“There should be more done to encourage people into farming. There are exciting times ahead with the focus shifting to regenerative farming and I am sure there are fantastic opportunities for apprentices like Ellie.

“Ellie is the third apprentice who has been with us on the farm and I feel privileged to have been able to help them through their apprenticeship on such an amazing estate. Throughout the estate there are many opportunities for different apprenticeships.”

Schemes

Launched at the end of 2017, Blenheim’s apprenticeship scheme aims to train 100 apprentices across various parts of the estate within a decade.By the end of last year and despite the Covid-19 pandemic, 50 apprentices had already either completed, or are currently completing, their courses.

DO YOU HAVE LAND?

DO YOU HAVE LAND?

VIEW ADVERT
£POA

BNG NNH2O Carbon | National Sale | Informal Tender

BNG NNH2O Carbon | National Sale | Informal

VIEW ADVERT
£POA

FARM LOANS & RE-MORTGAGES

FARM LOANS & RE-MORTGAGES

VIEW ADVERT
£POA